|Offense taking over defense with Matt Bartkowski ready to step in for Adam McQuaid||11.10.13 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Claude Julien said at the beginning of the season that the Bruins wouldn’t let Matt Bartkowski sit for a month. It’s true — they didn’t — but they’ve hardly gotten him into the lineup regularly of late.
With Bartkowski set to step in Monday for the injured Adam McQuaid, he’ll be playing in just the second time in the last 11 games. Bartkowski last played last Saturday against the Islanders, when he posted a minus-1 in a 3-1 Bruins loss.
“It’s just like stepping in for another game,” Bartkowski said Sunday. “I just try and think about that, so it’s nothing new.”
Assuming Bartkowski is in, the Bruins will likely be looking at having one of their young, mobile defensemen on each of their three pairings. Bartkowski was paired with Johnny Boychuk in practice Sunday, while Hamilton skated with Zdeno Chara and Krug — playing on the right side — was with Dennis Seidenberg.
If the Bruins go with those pairings — which are different from the ones they had when McQuaid was scratched in favor of Bartkowski in Florida last month — a Bruins back end that has already become a lot more offensive-minded will take it a step further with half of the defensemen being mobile blueliners.
“We do bring a little bit different game, I guess, with the skating and everything,” Bartkowski said. “It seems like the league has a lot of those D, and it’s good that we can bring that to the team. The solid D core that they’ve had here for years has worked. They won a Cup with it and everything, so for us to be able to add a little bit, it definitely helps.”
On the season, Bartkowski has played in four games, registering one assist and posting a minus-3 rating.
Given that the Bruins entered the season with seven defensemen capable of being NHL regulars, it seemed likely that Bartkowski, the fourth left shot among the seven, would be the odd man out. Yet Julien vowed to get him in the lineup wherever he could rather than letting him collect cobwebs in the press box like many spare parts.
As such, Bartkowski played in three of the Bruins’ first six games. Yet due to steady play from Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton and perhaps a desire on the Bruins’ part to get some consistency during a rough stretch of the season, Bartkowski played in only one of the next 10 contests.
“We all know that under other circumstances he’d probably be in the top-4 maybe even on some other teams when he’s on top of his game, so he’s a good defenseman,” Julien said. “It’s just right now we’ve got numbers. We’ve got veterans that are extremely good, that we’ve relied on in the past.
“We’ve got some good young players here. ‘¦ How do you take Krug out of the lineup when he’s probably one of your most important guys on the power play? Hamilton is the same way. He’s on the power play but he’s also played extremely well, so it’s not easy to balance those things out. So you make decisions as you go along, you know with time it’ll even itself out but he’s a good player, he deserves and belongs in this league. It’s as simple as that.”
|Adam McQuaid doubtful for Monday||at 11:38 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Adam McQuaid is doubtful for Monday’s game against the Lightning after missing Sunday’s practice. McQuaid appeared to suffer a lower-body injury on his second shift of Saturday’s game and was slow to get off the ice.
Claude Julien said after the practice that McQuaid is “still hurting.” With McQuaid is unlikely to play, Matt Bartkowski will probably make his return to the lineup.
Bartkowski has played just once in the Bruins’ last nine games (last Saturday against the Islanders), but was paired with Johnny Boychuk in Sunday’s practice.
The Bruins’ defensive pairings in practice were Chara – Hamilton, Seidenberg – Krug, Bartkowski – Boychuk.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Dougie Hamilton steps up against Toronto, adding to his second-year improvement||11.09.13 at 11:58 pm ET|
Dougie Hamilton saw his three-game point streak come to an end Saturday night. He couldn’t get off the ice during a two-and-a-half-minute shift in the second period. And he said after the game that he didn’t know where the phrase ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ came from.
There you go. Those are all the things that went wrong for Hamilton in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over Toronto. The list of things that went right is much, much longer, as the 20-year-old defenseman played arguably his best game of the season, and maybe the best of his young career.
With Adam McQuaid playing just 44 seconds before leaving the game with an injury, the rest of the Bruins’ defense corps had to pick up his minutes. But it was Hamilton who saw the biggest spike in playing time. He wound up playing 24:43, a career high for a 60-minute game and a full five minutes more than his season average entering Saturday.
“His first part of the year he was in and out a little bit. But he’s played really solid for us,” Claude Julien said after the game. “Offensively he continues to make good decisions, good plays, very aggressive. Defensively he’s becoming better and better all the time. So he’s a young player — he’s a 20-year-old — but with experience, he’s starting to flourish and he just has to keep going that way.”
Hamilton would’ve picked up a couple extra minutes no matter what, but the way he played warranted even more than that. He created a number of scoring chances in the offensive zone, including one in the first where he made a nice move around Nikolai Kulemin at the blue line before zipping a pass over to David Krejci, only to have Krejci flip the shot off the side of the net. Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins await word on Adam McQuaid||at 10:54 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid left Saturday night’s win over the Maple Leafs with a lower-body injury in the third period and did not return to the game. Following the game, Claude Julien had little to share on his status.
“It’s hard to give you a real good assessment after the game,” Julien said. “He didn’t come back because he couldn’t. We’ll probably give you more tomorrow when it’s a little bit clearer.”
McQuaid went down in his second shift of the game and first shift following a fight with Frazer McLaren. He was spotted by the Patriot-Ledger’s Mike Loftus walking out of the Garden under his own power following the game without crutches, but struggling to an extent.
If McQuaid is unable to go Monday against the Lightning, Matt Bartkowski could return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in nine of the Bruins’ last 10 games.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Adam McQuaid a healthy scratch vs. Panthers||10.17.13 at 7:24 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — In a season in which Claude Julien swears no defenseman is safe from a healthy scratch, the first eye-opening one is upon us. Adam McQuaid will sit vs. the Panthers, as Matt Bartkowski will stay in the lineup for a third straight game, while Dougie Hamilton will make his return to the lineup after sitting out the last two.
The Bruins lineup, per warmups, is as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Smith – Bergeron – Eriksson
Marchand – Kelly – Caron
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Seidenberg
Krug – Boychuk
Rask is obviously facing Tim Thomas as the two-time Vezina-winner and longtime Bruin will face his former team for the first time since leaving them prior to last season. Rask and Thomas, who got along well in their time as teammates, chatted with one another for about 30 seconds at center ice during warmup, as is documented by this horrible photo.
|Adam McQuaid knows Matt Bartkowski’s situation well||10.08.13 at 9:11 pm ET|
Matt Bartkowski isn’t the first to play the waiting game.
After proving himself capable of being a top-four NHL defenseman last postseason, Bartkowski has been the victim of a numbers game. With all of Boston’s blueliners healthy, it’s essentially down to Bartkowski and Torey Krug for the team’s third-pairing left defenseman. Krug is too valuable to the power play to sit, so for the first two games, Bartkowski’s worn a suit rather than a uniform.
Adam McQuaid knows exactly what that’s like.
McQuaid had played 19 games for in the 2009-10 season (Bartkowski played 11 last year) before playing nine games in the postseason (Bartkowski got in five games this past spring), but when the B’s began the 2010-11 season as the team’s seventh defenseman. To keep sane amidst the his time out of game action, the then-23-turned-24-year-old picked the brain of Johnny Boychuk, who had been through it before. As such, he hopes he can be of help to Bartkowski.
“I know what it’s like to be in that position,” McQuaid said. “When I went through it, I talked to Johnny Boychuk about it, and there’s always that kind of progression where the next guy can talk to you. If I’m lucky enough to be in a position where guys are comfortable [enough] to talk to me, and want to talk to me about different stuff, I’m happy to do so.”
As it turned out, it took an injury to Boychuk for McQuaid to get his chance. A Boychuk arm injury in late October allowed McQuaid to get into 10 games. Later in the season, McQuaid made enough of a case for himself while Mark Stuart was out with a hand injury that the B’s opted to keep McQuaid in the lineup and trade Stuart in the Rich Peverley deal.
The lesson? Don’t get down just because you’re not playing. Injuries happen and everyone gets their shot. The Bruins already have a case of it this year with Jordan Caron, who has in all likelihood turned Carl Soderberg into the team’s extra forward once Soderberg returns from his ankle injury.
“You never know what can happen,” McQuaid said. “The tough thing about it is that a lot of times it’s an injury and you don’t want to see a teammate and a friend get injured in order for yourself to get an opportunity. You just have to stay prepared. Practicing hard, and when you’re at the games, paying attention. Just being ready when you have the opportunity because you definitely want to make the most of it.”
McQuaid sat for the first six games in the 2010-11 season before Boychuk’s injury opened the door for him. Claude Julien has said that the wait won’t be too long for Bartkowski. Whether Krug, Dougie Hamilton or someone else sits, the B’s are going to get him into a game.
“I’ll be very honest — he’s not going to sit up there for a month,” Julien said Tuesday. “That’s not going to happen. We’ve got some good players that need to play. Especially early in the year, you’ve got to give those guys opportunities to play. When that’s going to happen, I’m not sure yet, but certainly don’t expect to see him in the stands for a whole month.”
|Adam McQuaid has moved beyond joy of Game 4 against Pittsburgh||06.10.13 at 2:46 pm ET|
Friday was quite the night for Adam McQuaid.
He fulfilled Milan Lucic‘s prophecy of scoring a goal, a tally that sent the Bruins onto their second Stanley Cup finals appearance in three seasons. He savored the moment, talked to friends who texted him congratulations and got his rest.
Now, all of that is in the distant past.
‘That night was pretty fun but turn the page and [get] focused for the next round here,” McQuaid said Monday as the Bruins began to prep for the Blackhawks on the ice. ‘I had a few more messages than normal. It was nice. Just turn the page now and get re-focused.”
The Bruins skated on Sunday but Monday had more a regular feel as the Bruins staff had a day to break down film and get their team ready.
‘Yeah, we need to make sure that we’re ready to go,” McQuaid said. “We’re facing a real tough challenge. We have to make sure we’re focused and at our best here.”
McQuaid and the Bruins defensive corps will have their hands full with the likes of Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Jonthan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus. McQuaid was watching all of them Saturday night when the Hawks won Game 5 in double-overtime on a Kane hat trick.
‘They’re a well-balanced team,” McQuaid said. “They come hard with a lot of talent. And again, they’re another team that can generate offense and is strong on the puck. It’s going to be a good challenge.’
Both the Bruins and Blackhawks came perilously close to not making this date in the finals. The Bruins had their epic comeback from 4-1 down in the last 11 minutes of Game 7 against Toronto in the opening round. The Hawks were down 3-1 to the Red Wings before winning three straight in the second round.
‘To get that point and to be able to come through it, maybe we were able to relax a little bit and go out and play the way we’re capable of playing, where at times before, maybe we weren’t,” McQuaid said of being down in Game 7. “Maybe we were a little too worried about the result instead of going out and playing our game and giving ourselves the best chance.
‘I think you see for our teams to get this point usually they go through something like that. Chicago came back from that 3-1 [deficit] against Detroit. I guess we’ve learned nothing is over until it’s over. So, something to learn from, I guess.’
This is not the first trip to the finals for McQuaid, who of course was part of the 2011 Bruins team. He said that might help at first but then, it will come down to execution on the ice.
‘Having been there before, everything won’t be totally new,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s a new year. We have to be sure we’re approaching it the right way, that we’re not thinking that just because we’ve been there before that we’re going to have the same result if we just go out and play. We have to make sure we’re approaching this as a new situation, a new year and being ready to go.’